Sioux Falls, SD
Police caught eight men trying to hire prostitutes Thursday night in Sioux Falls.
They were just a few of the more than 75 people who responded to a fake online ad for escort services posted by Sioux Falls Police as part of a prostitution sting.
Of the eight men who actually ended up being arrested one has been down this road before.
Samuel Wilson, 38, was arrested in 2008 for solicitation of a minor when he thought he was going to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex and instead he met undercover cops. Police say Wilson was one of the men who showed up at a Sioux Falls hotel Thursday looking for sex, and instead found himself behind bars.
"We posted the ads and within 20 minutes we were getting responses so it's pretty obvious that there are people out there looking for this," Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel said.
Barthel said officers got more than 100 text messages from more than 75 people after positing the ad. Police say only eight men actually showed up at the Sioux Falls hotel and agreed to exchange money for sex with two undercover female officers.
"Just because of the high response, or the large number or people we had for this, it's pretty evident there's an issue there," Barthel said.
One of the other men arrested was 29-year-old Efren Soltero-Romero. He also appeared in court Friday because he is being held on an immigration hold.
Police say because of the dozens of responses they received from their internet ad they will be doing these stings again, and they are warning those who are on the internet looking for prostitutes.
"My advice to them would be very careful as you go forward because you have no idea the next time when you set up one of these encounters whether or not the person you are about to have a date with is a police officer or not," Barthel said.
Wilson was one of three men who were charged twice because police say they wanted to hire two prostitutes at the same time.
The other two men are 61-year-old Michael Stang of St. Joseph, MN, and 56-year-old Glen Hurst of Sioux Falls.
The five men who were charged with one count of Hiring for Sexual Activity are:
- Nicholas Berman, 26 of Sioux Falls
- Jasper Williams, 37 of Centerville
- Charles Wathier, 45 of Sioux Falls
- Roy Knudson, 63 of Sioux Falls
- Efren Soltero-Romero, 29 of Sioux Falls
Hiring for Sexual Activity is a class one misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail.
Police say they are conducting these stings because many times prostitutes are victims in these cases forced to engage in these activities by larger organized crime groups.
Police believe if they can stop men in the area from hiring prostitutes they can cut off business for those groups.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A grammatical error was corrected in this story.